Brown can apply again to cross-examine Mcebisi Jonas – Zondo
The former minister failed to give a version to counter that of Mcebisi Jonas, according to which Ajay Gupta said he worked closely with her.
Former minister of public enterprises, Lynne Brown. Picture: Neil McCartney
Visibly annoyed by former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown’s failure to provide her version to counter a claim that she “worked closely with the Gupta family”, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo yesterday dismissed her application to cross-examine former finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.
The dismissal of Brown’s bid becomes the second, after that of Ajay and Rajesh Gupta, who recently lodged a similar application in the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to cross-examine Jonas and former ANC member of parliament Vytjie Mentor.
In their testimonies, Jonas and Mentor implicated the Guptas in bribery, corruption and illegally offering them Cabinet posts when summoned to the Saxonwold family compound for separate meetings.
Brown’s application follows an earlier revelation by Jonas that during his meeting at the Gupta home on October 23, 2015, Ajay Gupta claimed the family “worked closely with a number of people, including Brown and [former Eskom CEO] Brian Molefe”.
During Ajay’s conversation with Jonas, he described Brown and Molefe as “protected”, indirectly referring to former president Jacob Zuma, who maintained close ties with the Gupta family during his tenure.
Brown’s advocate, Simmy Lebala, yesterday attempted to dwell on “the context” behind the application, but his failure to provide the commission with a version of events to counter Jonas’ revelation made Zondo lose patience.
“It is not Jonas who said the Guptas worked with Brown, he referred to what Ajay said about her. What will be helpful is for her to give us her version,” Zondo said.
Lebala said Brown – although not denying the allegation – “will demonstrate that she was not associated with the Guptas”. Despite Zondo repeatedly asking for Brown’s version, which is one of the commission’s requirements in an application to cross-examine witnesses, Lebala failed to do so.
“If you cannot give me her version, you are going to have problems with me granting you the application,” warned Zondo. “I now give you two minutes Mr Lebala. You are left with one minute.”
This was followed shortly thereafter with “Miss Lynne Brown’s application is dismissed. She has not put up her version. If she is able to meet the requirements, she can apply in the future.”
The commission now goes into recess until early next month, when Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan will testify.
Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan, ousted by Zuma in a 2010 Cabinet reshuffle and replaced by Malusi Gigaba, is also expected to testify.